The Jefferson Memorial will receive an ‘update’ in wake of Charlottesville protests

The Jefferson Memorial will receive an ‘update’ in wake of Charlottesville protests
The National Mall Board of Trustees announced that the Jefferson Memorial will receive an update soon.(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)
Update: An earlier version of this story failed to mention that the Jefferson Memorial features a quote by Jefferson on the Northeast Portico which condemns slavery. 


The Washington Examiner erroneously reported that the funding the Trust is raising is being used to address Jefferson’s history as a slave owner. The funding is being used to update the Memorial with “new ramps, restrooms, a reconfigured elevator and exhibits,” Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, the National Park Service spokesperson for the National Capital Region told TheBlaze.


A private non-profit Board of Trustees who is in charge of the monuments on the National Mall are working to get in front of a public relations nightmare before it implodes. Their first order of business? Updating the Jefferson Memorial to accurately reflect Thomas Jefferson’s personal record of being a slave owner, the Washington Examiner reported.

The decision

Protesters have yet to take to the National Mall to demand the changes but the Board of Trustees decided to take the first step before their hands are tied.

Catherine Townsend, president of the Trust for the National Mall, wrote a letter to supporters making them aware of the update:

In the coming weeks and months, the physical symbols of American history and democracy will be scrutinized and challenged. When that happens, we will work with our partners to ensure the National Mall continues to be a vibrant and relevant place where Americans can learn about our history and imagine our future, together.

Recent events only reinforce the need for an open, inclusive and safe space for Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights and to gather in pursuit of our shared ideals — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.

I hope you will join us as we steward private support to implement modern and resilient solutions that can transform this dynamic space and preserve the historic legacy of the National Mall. We want to hear from you, and we want to work with you.

The Board is currently raising money to refurbish the exhibit that has become worn down over the last 20 years since its installation. Because the Board provides private funds, they have a direct say in how the monument is refurbished, including the addition of Jefferson’s record as a slave owner.

“We can reflect the momentous contributions of someone like Thomas Jefferson, but also consider carefully the complexity of who he was,” an official with the Trust told the Washington Examiner. “And that’s not reflected right now in the exhibits.”

The budget

According to the Washington Examiner, the National Parks Service faces a $11.49 billion deficit that is used to maintain parks nationwide. $850 million of that is normally dedicated to the National Mall.

“We can reflect the momentous contributions of someone like Thomas Jefferson, but also consider carefully the complexity of who he was,” an official with the Trust told the Washington Examiner. “And that’s not reflected right now in the exhibits.”

Striking a balance

The Board will work to strike a balance between Jefferson’s patriotic nature and his complex record as a slave owner. Although Jefferson is believed to have fathered six of his slave’s kids, the updated monument will not include that bit of information.

“There are somethings that are better represented and better explained at Monticello,” the official said. “The Jefferson Memorial does not necessarily need to be an all-inclusive site and encapsulate all of that detail.”
(H/T Washington Examiner)

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